Saturday April 22 2006 1:20pm WST
For Immediate Release
"The proposed Immigration Bill to banish all boatpeople who enter Australian waters to seek asylum to foreign nations and islands, and bar them permanently from accessing Australia, even if they are found to be refugees after assessment, is coming unstuck before it's even been written or becoming public," WA Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.
TV Campaign expected
In addition to a massive campaign developing around Australia initiated by Rights groups such as Project SafeCom, as well as the NSW group A Just Australia, and by Amnesty International Australia, The group 'GetUp! Action for Australia' has confirmed it intends to campaign on this issue, both through mobilizing its vast numbers of members and supporters, and through a television advertising campaign.
GetUp!'s Executive Director Brett Solomon (contact below) has confirmed this today after receiving briefings from Project SafeCom, A Just Australia and also through the Melbourne-based The Justice Project's board member Ms Jessie Taylor (contact below)."
This morning The West Australian newspaper reports (transcript below) that Nauru, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are not interested in doing Australia's bidding as far as settlement is concerned. In addition, a Poll commissioned in Western Australia confirms that the majority of those asked think that Australia should process West Papuans on the mainland and grant them asylum in Australia, while an overwhelming 83% thinks Australia should grant successful asylum seekers protection in Australia.
"It looks like this shocking proposal, sacrificing Australia's International obligations under the UN Refugee Convention is rapidly developing into John Howard's A Bridge Too Far," Project SafeCom's spokesman Jack H Smit commented.
"Mr Howard knows the government is loosing badly in the polls since the introduction of the IR legislation, and he's groping back at his own self-loved and perceived success prior to the 2001 Federal election and the blocking of MV Tampa, and of course he wants to "do more of the same" within this context."
"But the Prime Minister fails to notice what Australians have learnt through Cornelia Rau, Vivian Alvarez, through the countless misery stories coming from detention centres, and he has failed to notice that the Australian community is starting to get very, very sick of his manipulation of refugees and asylum seekers, more visible in the context of our well-liked West Papuan neighbours than with any other group of asylum seekers."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
CONTACTS OF OTHER PARTIES in this release:
Mr Brett Solomon
GetUp! Action for Australia
[phone number posted]
Ms Jessie Taylor
The Justice Project
[phone number posted]
PM's new refugee plan left in tatters
The West Australian
22 April 2006
ANDREW PROBYN and RHIANNA KING
John Howard's plan to appease Indonesia by relocating West Papuan asylum seekers overseas was in tatters last night after Nauru refused to co-operate and a poll showed the plan lacked public support.
In an exclusive interview with The West Australian, Nauru's president declared that his country would not take Australia's unwanted refugees.
It is believed that neither New Zealand, Papua New Guinea nor Fiji is likely to agree to accept refugees found to be genuine after they are processed in Australian-run offshore detention centres.
And a survey of West Australians this week has found that the Prime Minister could have misjudged the public mood, with most not supporting the Government's so-called Pacific Solution, under which asylum seekers would be processed offshore.
An overwhelming 83 per cent of respondents to the latest Westpoll thought Australia should accept genuine refugees from the Indonesian province of West Papua, with just 13 per cent against.
The survey of 401 people found that 52 per cent of respondents believed asylum seekers should have their claims processed in Australia, rather than in detention centres on Christmas Island, Nauru or on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Support for offshore processing was given by 38 per cent of respondents, with 10 per cent undecided.
In response to Indonesia's fury at Australia granting temporary protection visas to 42 West Papuans, the Government earlier this month announced that all boat people would be processed offshore, even when they reached the Australian mainland.
A strong majority of Westpoll's respondents - 61 per cent - said they believed Australia should not be influenced by Indonesian complaints when it came to deciding whether to accept refugees from West Papua.
The Westpoll telephone survey was conducted on the 18th and 19th of April.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the Minister would not comment on Westpoll's findings.